SCA helping Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Lauri Harvey Keagle
NWI Times
Thursday, July 9, 2015

Native plants replace Invasives

DUNE ACRES | Matthew Ng jumped on a planting tool that looked like a pogo stick while working in the rain at Cowles Bog Wednesday morning.

“It’s worth it,” Ng said of the native planting he’s doing there. 

Ng, of Chicago, is a senior at Valparaiso University studying environmental science. He is among the members of the Student Conservation Association spending eight weeks this summer working at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore on restoration and remediation efforts. This fall, military veterans will take over the projects as part of a job-training program.

Last week, BP announced a $1 million donation to the Student Conservation Association for the projects at the dunes as well as those along the Calumet River in Illinois. The Illinois projects involve high school and college students.

Nathanael Pilla, biological technician at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, said he and his colleagues welcome the help from the SCA.

“We always have more work than we have people,” Pilla said. “It’s nice when you have a team that comes that’s … willing to do almost anything.”

Pilla said the SCA volunteers “take the extra stress off us so we can go get other things done.”

Katy Crass, Student Conservation Association team leader, lives in Valparaiso, is a recent graduate of Michigan Technical University. Crass holds degrees in wildlife ecological management and applied ecological and environmental sciences.

“This used to be a wetland, but it was drained,” Crass said. “Prairies usually need help coming back, so we’re trying to get it back to where it once was.”